His coach calls him the best player in the league “bar none,” and Alex Powell’s response was an uncomfortable chuckle in obvious embarrassment at that assesment of his talent.
Finally, after a second or two, Powell says there are lot of good players in the Penney Kia St. John’s Junior Hockey League, which is perhaps what his coach would expect the quiet-spoken, modest defenceman to say.
Entering the weekend’s slate of games, Powell had 30 points in 19 games for Avalon Capitals from five goals and 25 assists, just behind teammate and league scoring leader Michael Cole, who has 34 points in 20 games.
Avalon Roebothan McKay Marshall Capitals coach David Hutchens says Powell has been the best player in the junior league for a couple of years.
“I don’t think I’m playing any better than I have been before,” said Powell. “I credit my teammates for helping me out a lot. It’s the team’s success that helps me get the points as a defenceman.”
Hutchens has nothing but positive things to say about Powell, although he’d like to see him shoot the puck a little more.
“He’s probably the most unselfish player on our team. He probably has one of the best point shots in the league, but he’s a pass-first type of player.”
“That’s a fair assesment,” said Powell. “Sometimes I have a clear shot and I give it away. But I’m not going out there trying to score a goal every time.
“As long as our team scores, that’s all I want,” said Powell, who added, “I also need to work on my skating because you can always get faster and stronger.”
Hutchens said Powell hasn’t changed much over the three years he’s been with the club.
“He’s steady as a rock. He very seldom makes mistakes. If he does, the coaching staff will let him off the hook because his mistakes are few and far between.”
And, if anything, Hutchens adds, Powell is better defensively than offensively.
“When I think of Alex, I don’t think of offence. He is better in his own zone,” said Hutchens, who notes that Powell is the Capitals’, “shutdown D-man, our top penalty killer and power play guy.”
Powell’s priorities as a defencemen, he says, involve making good breakout passes and shutting the other team down.
The Avalon coach says Powell is, “more of a leader by example, although he speaks when he has to.
“He’s our captain this season and giving him the ‘C’ was a no-brainer, really,” added Hutchens.
In addition to wearing the captain’s C on Avalon, Powell will captain the City Division team in the league’s annual all-star game Wednesday night at the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay.
“He prepares for each game the right way, and he’s definitely our team leader on and off the ice,” Hutchens said.
The 21-year-old, six-foot, 205-pound Outer Cove native played his major midget hockey with St. John’s Fog Devils.
He spent the 2010-11 season with Kanata, Ont. Stallions in the junior A Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) where he registered 12 points in 60 games. Powell said that experience made him a much better player when he returned to the local junior league.
“It’s really good quality hockey, and I learned a lot from the coaches and the players,” he said.
The second-year general studies Memorial University student wants to continue his hockey career after this season.
He hopes to get drafted into the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League and he doesn’t really care which team takes him.
“I just want to continue playing hockey. I’m just looking for a game. I’m fine with whoever I end up with,” he said.